Where are my notes about the new notes updating the old notes?
By Jeff Salter
Notes are on our collective minds this week at 4F1H — and that means different things to different ones of us. For the Hound Day’s journey to Note-Land, let us focus on how I employ them (or DON’T employ them) in my writing.
First of all, in my fiction writing I’m much more of a Pants-ter than a Plotter. I’ve tried outlining stories – or parts of stories – and I usually get frustrated and quit. Or, I’ll have something outlined and later when I get to that point in the actual writing… too many things have changed and that step is either too different or no longer even necessary.
So, I usually start with a premise or a concept… and then figure out who is involved in it. Then I figure out who they’re in contact with… and what circumstances they face. Then, together, those characters and I proceed until we reach the conclusion of that episode.
But I’m very much a typing person, so most of my drafting is done right here at the keyboard. When I can’t get to a keyboard – or when I need to preserve some particular gem before I forget it and it’ll take too long to get to my PC – I’ll jot things down on paper. When I’m really doing things right, I’ll transcribe those notes right away and everything’s copasetic. But more often, I’ll put down those handwritten pages and next time I’m at my PC I’ll just resume work where I left off in the digital manuscript.
Have you guessed what happens to those handwritten notes?
Many times, I’ve gotten to a certain place in the computer manuscript and I’ll be thinking: “Hmm. This scene really needs Character A to recall that important incident to Character B.” So I’ll just sit there and type out that exchange. As I’m doing so, I have this vague sense of déjà vu.
You can likely guess that later, I’ll come across those hand-written notes and realize that I’d already written out that entire scene — but never got around to transcribing it to the computer. When I compare the two versions of that scene, section, chapter – whatever it was – often there are striking differences. So I’m left to figure out which one to use: the one I hand-wrote first or the one I later typed as I had that vague déjà vu feeling?
I have writing tablets filled with hand-written stuff. In my earlier writing years, these would more likely be poems or poetic fragments. Some are dream accounts that I never got around to typing… some are things I wanted to remember to include in a novel that’s already been published (but I forgot about those notes). Many are concepts or “starts” for new fiction projects that I won’t likely have enough years on this earth to ever get around to.
Writing notes (for my writing projects) – for me – often leads nowhere. If it’s not almost immediately incorporated into whatever I’m working on (at the PC), it will likely be O.B.E. [overcome by events] by the time I stumble across it again.
[JLS # 502]